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Four senior partners have quit Redwood City’s Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley to open their own shop, and another two partners have announced they intend to depart the firm as well. Brian Davis, Stephen Ellingson, Stephen Hayes and Robert McLay have teamed with Stephen Scott, a former Ropers, Majeski managing partner and chairman who left in May. They opened Hayes, Davis, Ellingson, McClay & Scott on June 30 in Menlo Park. In addition, partners Mary McCurdy and Kevin McCurdy, who are husband and wife, announced they plan to leave to start a new firm. Their last day at Ropers is today. The McCurdys did not return calls seeking comment. Some Ropers, Majeski partners said they believe the departing lawyers were dissatisfied with their compensation under a new system the firm established about 18 months ago. The pay scheme replaced a complicated point system and aims to reward the people who bring in business, the partners say. Both Scott, a 27-year Ropers veteran, and Hayes, who was with the firm for 25 years, said compensation was not the primary reason for their departures. “There are always issues, but the main thing is we wanted to do our own thing,” Scott said. “We’ve been friends a long time, and we wanted to practice together.” Scott left Ropers, Majeski in May to join Realty Law in San Jose, and he remains of counsel there to handle litigation matters. The lawyers at Hayes, Davis will continue their bad faith insurance coverage work, Hayes said. The team brought with them a number of pending client matters, but Hayes declined to name them. He said the new firm will also take on general commercial matters with an emphasis on trial work. Ropers, Majeski Managing Partner Richard Wilson said the lawyers will be missed, but that such resignations did not represent a mass exodus of lawyers from the firm. Wilson said the firm still has plenty of lawyers who can handle bad faith insurance disputes. “They’re good lawyers, and they’re good people, and we wish them the best of luck,” Wilson said. “People get to points in their careers where they want to strike out and do other things.” Wilson declined to discuss the firm’s compensation plan, which was put in place in January 2002. Wilson also said the firm was healthy, with revenues on the rise this year, though he would not disclose how much Ropers was set to gross. “We’re on course to do the best year over the last five years,” Wilson said. A former partner said that throughout the 1990s, the firm grossed at least $38 million, peaking at $44 million in 2001. Ropers, Majeski has 125 lawyers, 47 of them partners. It is known for its insurance defense work. Despite the steady revenues, a former partner who spoke on condition of anonymity said the firm has faced high overhead costs that eat into firm profits. And the former partner criticized the compensation system for favoring certain individuals. “It creates incredible uncertainty and is subject to change in the middle of the year,” the former partner said. But Hayes said the partners who are forming their own firm simply wanted to practice in a smaller environment. “We wanted greater control over our own destiny,” he said. “120 lawyers is not big in the scheme of things, but it is certainly bigger than we are in the present.”

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